SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Bea Slater, Springfield’s “Grandmother of Rock n’ Roll” (and mom of former Westfield Board of Education member Mitch Slater) found a new gig. On the heels of her appearance introducing Steve Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul at a Staten Island show last September, she won a starring role in a poster ad campaign for the Jewish dating site JDate.
The opportunity came about when a Springfield neighbor aware of the concert appearance contacted Mitch Slater on Facebook about possibly auditioning for a role. She said they were looking for a 90-year-old grandmother.
Mitch called Bea in early December and asked if she might be interested in auditioning for a role in the upcoming ad campaign for JDate. Bea was shopping in the local King’s and right then and there she said, “Yes, I would like to audition for the part.” Although not a professional actress, she auditioned in New York City and won a role.
Her audition included telling a scripted joke Bea did not feel she handled it well and so told one of her own. She said she was asked by someone about her living arrangements and replied “I live in a ranch house.” To which the person responded, “Do you own a horse?” The people conducting the audition liked it so much she got the job.
Then the ad pictures were taken in the Brooklyn studio. Some of those pictures found their way on posters popping up all around the New York City area. Many of the ads are on billboards, subways and bus shelters in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They can also be found in the Port Authority.
Slater is one of five women chosen for the ads. In one ad, she is sitting in a round futuristic chair with headphones on looking at a computer. The accompanying ad line is “Her dreidel game is filthy – But her code is clean.” In another ad, she is one of three women at a table looking at their laptops and that ad line is “Kvetch all day – Code all night.”
Bea Slater has lived in Springfield for 65 years in the same house. In that house, she and her late husband raised three children, helped found Temple Sha'arey Shalom, and made many friends. While 90 years old, Slater remains very active and still goes out almost every day to do daily chores and catch up with friends and family.
Before New Jersey, there was West Philadelphia, where she grew up. Her favorite home there was on Catherine Street.There were lots of families and friends in the neighborhood. The family lived in a rowhouse. Her high school was also attended by Wilt Chamberlin. Bea’s son Jeff chronicled some of the memories and photographs of growing up in that neighborhood in “A West Philly Story”.
Her father was a professional photographer. A native of Russia, her father was sent to Newark as a child to be taken care of by an uncle. His two sisters remained in Russia and became doctors. Her father’s career took him to the Philadelphia area where he would take pictures of the Philadelphia Phillies and many commercial jobs. For the neighbors, he often took pictures of neighbors and their kids and would then give them 8x10 glossies and that made him a neighborhood favorite.
But Bea’s dad was not just a good father and photographer, he was a charitable individual and when he died, the New York Times obituary was George Ginsberg, 97, 'Penny Philanthropist,' Dies. Like Bea, George was active into his 90s. From the obituary, “He sometimes gave without being asked. If he read about a natural disaster or saw television coverage of a medical emergency, the victims might soon be opening envelopes containing $5 or $10, usually urging them to ''save your postage'' by not sending a letter of thanks.” Well after he passed away, Bea said she still received letters of people thanking her for his help.
After West Philadelphia, Bea summered in Asbury Park, then moved to East Orange and then Springfield, NJ during October 1952. She has lived in the same house since; 65 years this month. All of her children attended the same three Springfield schools; Chisholm, Gaudineer and Jonathan Dayton.
In 65 years, Bea Slater may have lived in the same house but she has seen lots of changes in Springfield and enjoyed many of the new types of music. She can be followed on twitter at @momagogo90 and on Instagram @grandmabeaslater. She has shown she was born to rock and she rolls with the changes.